The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

A new program highlights impact of local businesses on Calgary's economy

Watt thumbTo Calgarians, Muttley Crue is not just a spelling error of the name of a 1980s hair band. It's actually quite the opposite, as it creates less pollution than the band's supersized hairspray containers and cartons of cigarettes.

Muttley Crue is a small business in the northwest community of Bridgeland, and is the only 100 per cent organic and sustainable dog-grooming facility in the city.

The shop is associated with REAP (Respect for the Earth and All People) and its newest program "Be Local." REAP is a not-for-profit association made up of local businesses that have met criteria for showing environmental and social responsibility.

"Be Local," which kickstarted this September, draws attention to small local businesses that are more likely to supply local product in their stores. A "Be Local" sign hangs at each of the 50-plus locations so that when the customer sees the sign they will know that store buys local product.

The purpose of the program is to draw consumers to stores who supply local goods, says Stephanie Jackman, founder and president of REAP.

"Businesses purchasing from other local businesses helps to create a greener and more resilient local economy in Calgary," Jackman said.

DogMuttley Crue owner Annie Cole snuggles up with one of her regulars.

Photo by: Stephanie Watt
But why is it so important to buy local?

"People think, 'Does it really matter if I buy this from Safeway or if I buy it from the farmer's market?' It really does matter," Jackman said.

"If you make one trip to the farmer's market a month versus going to a conventional grocery store, it adds up to millions of dollars being put back into Calgary and thousands of job openings for residents."

Local businesses that are green are even more important, as they promote a healthy message to other Calgarians, said Jackman.

As a sustainable business owner, Annie Cole, owner of Muttley Crue, agrees.

"We don't want to be one of the few sustainable businesses in Calgary; we want to pass on our message and influence others to become sustainable as well," Cole said.

In the United States, a study done in 2008 called "Local Works!" examined the impact of local business on the west Michigan economy. The study suggested that if people divert 10 per cent of their spending from chain stores to local businesses, it would create nearly $140 million going back into the region and close to 1,600 new jobs.

Mark Stout is a client who gets his animals trimmed up through the services of Muttley Crue, and is always impressed with the economic message the company promotes.

"It's important to see that this business model actually can be successful," said Stout. "It's definitely a factor in why I support Annie."

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